Central Refrigerated Service Agrees to Refrain From Using Already Discontinued ‘WorkWell’ Examinations in Its Hiring Process

LOS ANGELES – Central Refrigerated Service has agreed to settle a sex and age discrimination charge filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. The Utah-based trucking company was acquired by Swift Transportation in 2013.

This settlement resolves claims that applicants to truck driver positions at Central Refrigerated Service’s Fontana, Calif., facility who were female or over 40 years of age were allegedly adversely affected by a mandatory policy requiring them to take strength exams which EEOC said were not indica­tive of the strength level required for the positions. The exams were administered by WorkWell, Inc., a third-party vendor no longer used by the company. The EEOC charge alleged that the com­pany’s practice discriminated against women and older applicants who were ultimately not hired as a result of not passing the exam.

Upon acquisition by Swift Transportation, Central Refrigerated Service adopted Swift Transportation’s hiring policies, which do not require any strength or lifting exams.

EEOC and Central Refrigerated Service reached a three-year negotiated settlement agreement, although Central has made clear that it does not admit liability, but rather settled the matter because the WorkWell process had long ago been discarded by the company. Central agreed to an injunction precluding the use of WorkWell strength exams as a condition of employment. The company also agreed to maintain its anti-discrimination policies and post to an employee-accessible intranet platform for all current Central employees. The parties further agreed to the distribution of a public press release on the matter.

“Physical agility tests for positions that do not require the same level of physical ability can run afoul of federal law,” said Rosa M. Viramontes, district director of EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office. “We commend Central Refrigerated Service for shifting Central’s policies to ensure that job applicants have equal access to employment going forward.”

Mark Wilkey, Central’s general counsel, said, “Central Refrigerated Service is committed to equal opportunity employment and non-discrimination in employment. We are pleased to work with EEOC to resolve this matter.”

Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, especially class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against racial, ethnic and religious groups, older workers, women and people with disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by EEOC’s Strategic Enforce­ment Plan (SEP).

EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.